Chapter twenty one
"I told you already, it's too soon, it would be a really, really bad idea for you to come down here."
"How about you think about someone other than yourself for once. I'm not saying never. I'm just saying let things calm down for a while. It's only been a week."
"Thank you. I'll tell you when it's a better time okay, I'm not trying to keep you in the dark. Look I got to go, I'll call you when I think it's been enough time okay... okay. Bye."
Humming and movement around the kitchen un froze me from eavesdropping on Karl's phone conversation. I had no idea what it was about but his tone had stopped me from entering the kitchen until it was safe.
"Morning Alex, I made sure I was up before you so I could make you breakfast this weekend." His grin was warm and welcoming, but his eyes showed he was hiding something, hiding and worrying.
His phone call was obviously to someone he knew well but I didn't know if it was work related or personal. All I knew was it had him stressed. He had mentioned it had only been a week, I'd been here a week... were they talking about me?...
"Morning Karl," I whisper, looking at the spread he'd prepared "...looks great." I bounce from one foot to the other not knowing what to say next.
"You sit down and help yourself, I'm going to go a find everyone else before it goes cold." I wasn't sure if it was just me... or whether Karl was trying to get away from being alone with me.
I started piling my plate up and grabbing a glass of juice when the kitchen door to the outside swung open. Aiden walked in and he had a girl with him.
"Hey Al, did you make all this again?" He grinned down at the food "We might have to start paying you for you food services. Can I bagsy you to move in with me when I leave and have you as a cook for me?" He laughs before pulling the girl... no, not girl, I was a girl. This was a woman, he pulled a woman inside and shut the door.
"This is Kelly by the way, Kelly, this is Alex, an old family friend. Alex, this is my girlfriend Kelly."
I smile kindly at her and she returns it with a slightly forced one of her own.
"It's nice to meet you" she says standing side by side with Aiden.
I nod back to her and keep the smile on my face.
"Alex is... a little shy." Aiden explains, smiling warmly down at me. It annoyed me that I'd turned into this meek, pathetic baby that had everyone tiptoeing around or having to explain my quiet behaviour.
The kitchen starting filling up and it was obvious they'd all met Kelly before.
"I thought you were staying at Kelly's parents this weekend while she was back. Not that I don't love seeing you dear, but has something happened?" Sandra asks.
"No everything's fine Mrs S. we are staying at my parents while I'm back for the weekend. But I thought we'd pop over to see everyone before I hide Aid away for 2 days. Besides I just wanted to catch up with everyone before I disappear for a week or two again." Kelly, I gathered lived away while she studied and only resurfaced on the weekends, or every other weekend, I wasn't sure.
"Oh that's nice love, and you're always welcome here..." Sandra started asking her routine questions on how her classes were going and about her part time job. I mostly blocked it out and concentrated on my breakfast so when I heard my name I lifted my head abruptly and looked around at who had spoken it.
"I was just asking how the party went last night?, you were all in bed when we got home," Sandra asked while wiping Taylor's face that was just getting messy again the moment she moved the baby wipe.
Ben and Taylor were watching Sponge-bob on a little portable Tv while they ate their breakfast.
"Woohoo some party animals you guys are, if mom and dad beat yous." Aiden joked but only Karla and his parents chuckled.
I forced a little smile and tried to catch eye contact with Sam or the Twins. Lucas was quite evidently avoided eye contact with me and looked like he was trying to move his breakfast with the power of his mind. Jamie finally looked at me, silently questioning how I wanted to handle the situation. Sam actually looked slightly hungover and was just picking at his food so I wasn't sure he was paying attention either way.
"The pa-party was - it was fine." I get out "it - it was just... ma-maybe a litt-little too" soon? Disastrous? "much... for me." I exhale loudly. "I had - one of, of m-my" I never knew what to call them. Jamie took pity on my pathetic attempt to explain.
"We were driving home. Things got a little heated... and Alex, she panicked that's all. We got the situation under control and everyone's fine," he directed the last bit to me "we're still so sorry and hope you can forgive us."
"Of course." I say quietly at the same time that Sandra, Karl and Aiden start firing out questions;
"What do you mean heated?"
"What do you mean she panicked?"
"What did you do?"
Lucas stood up and wordlessly excused himself and left the kitchen. I wanted to go after him, but I let Sam, who finally looked like he was paying attention say he'd talk to him.
"Somebody better explain themselves right now?" Karl spoke out. It was calm but commanding.
I looked at Jamie pleadingly. I couldn't speak. I couldn't explain. He raised an eyebrow silently asking how much did I want him to tell them, I nodded in acceptance, they could know it all.
"Me, Sam and Lucas lost sight of Alex for a while. When we finally found her friend Anna, she told us that this guy Martin had given her a little trouble but Cameron Fitzgerald had sorted it out and last she'd seen of her , Alex was with Cameron... so we went looking for her. Me and Matt found her upstairs with him," I look at him accusingly. "I don't mean it like that, she wasn't... she wouldn't do something like that, I just mean that's what we... what I thought at first" he again, looked up over at me apologetically. "I got angry. Then Lucas got angry. While we were driving home we kind of blasted Alex about how stupid she was, being alone with him and we got carried away... anyway Sam was in the back with Alex and basically told us to shut up and that we were scaring her. When we looked over she was as white as a sheet and grabbing her chest. We pulled over and she sort of dropped to the ground until she could breathe again... She explained what had happened and that she panicked and... that's about it... in a nutshell."
I forced my burning face to look up at everyone to see what they were thinking; Aiden looked understanding - I figured he had linked this back to my confession with him. Karl and Sandra looked upset but not shocked, again I knew this would be their reaction. Nathan, looked... hurt, it took me a moment but I guessed (maybe incorrectly) that he was upset I hadn't told him the full story last night... Carla looked like she was going to cry, or hug me... or both. Ben and Taylor were still watching Sponge-bob and then there was Kelly...
Kelly looked uncomfortable, and I couldn't blame her, she had come to catch up and have breakfast with her boyfriends family and the new girl had caused everything to change and become awkward.
"Jamie, go and get your two brothers... now. Carla would you and Nathan take Ben and Taylor into the living room please, and stay there." Jamie immediately did as he was told. Carla looked like she was going to object but a stern look from her dad and she shooed the younger kid out of the kitchen with Nathan.
"It - it really doesn't ma-matter. We can for-forget it." I was mortified. What were they doing? Having a family meeting about me?
"Alex sweetie, we just want to get everything sorted. Even I could see the tension between you and Lucas, let's just get everything out in the open and clear things up." Sandra spoke warmly but I panicked.
Were they going to reveal all my secrets? Tell them how broken and messed up I was? My face must have clearly shown my distress.
"We'll just talk about what happened last night and square things off." Karl spoke, putting his arm around Sandra.
I didn't understand what was happening. I would have eventually sorted things with Lucas I'm sure. I didn't need everyone involved in it... is this how they solved all their family issues. By discussing them as a unit and figuring it out together.... weirdos.